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Great Expectations

By Charles Dickens (7)

A masterpiece by Charles Dickens, Great Expectations is a coming-of-age tale of ambition and twisted love. The orphan, Pip, lives with his irascible sister, Georgiana, and her gentle husband, Joe Gargery, in rural England. In a terrifying episode, Pip is coerced into helping a convict named Magwitch evade justice. Magwitch, and another escaped prisoner, are caught, but the frightening scene in a lonely graveyard makes a powerful impression on the boy. His education continues when he meets an embittered gentlewoman, named Miss Havisham, and her haughty ward, Estella, with whom Pip falls in love. When Pip receives an anonymous legacy, he assumes that Miss Havisham is his benefactor. Estella is eventually revealed to be the daughter of the convict Magwitch, who is Pip’s real benefactor. The jilted Miss Havisham has trained Estella to despise men, but when the old lady dies in a fire, Estella is free to live. Whether she returns Pip’s love depends on which ending of the novel the reader accepts. Great Expectations has won a place on high school reading lists around the world, and is a Dickens’ classic.

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